Which Tree To Plant?

What tree species?

Healthy urban trees in our region need to be drought tolerant, sized right for the place they will be planted, and provide shade and other benefits. 

Consider these factors:

  • What motivates you to plant a tree? Shade and cooling? Food production? Native trees for forage, shelter and nesting for insects, birds and wildife?
  • How big do you want your tree to be when it is mature?
  • What tree form/shape is right for your spot? (Round, weeping, spreading, or upright?)
  • How about character, color, and special features? (Evergreen, deciduous, native, flowering, etc.)
  • How much time do you have for maintenance?
  • Can you let go of the “myths about trees?” Trees selection myths from arborist Magen Shaw

Kate’s urban forester is working with our local wholesale nursery and local retail nurseries to offer about ten shade trees and six native trees for purchase in late 2022, and the trees under consideration are listed below. More trees suitable for San Diego urban growing conditions are listed in this table of trees. The traits of these trees and others are available by browsing UFEI’s Tree Selection Guide.

Start by choosing the tree size and foliage. Small trees are to be planted in planting space less than 25 feet, medium trees in planting spaces up to 50 feet, and large trees in planting space greater than 50 feet. Measure your planting space. Then check whether you can meet the irrigation and plant hardiness zone requirements. Look up the Western Sunset planting “zone” for your location, in this planting zone map.

Suitable trees have been selected by arborists, grown at local wholesale nurseries, and will be available for purchase in late 2022 at Walter Andersen Nursery at their Old Town location. They are listed in the table below. The mix of species may change but will still be drought-tolerant, easy-to-grow trees, suitable for San Diego’s climate. Click here for tips on going to the nursery and getting your tree.

Native tree suggestions, most available at Moosacreek Nursery

Scientific NameCommon NameSize
Chilopsis linearis ‘ MonhewsDesert willow ‘Timeless Beauty’small
Heteromeles arbutifoliaToyonsmall
Hesperocyparis (Cupressus) forbesiiTecate cypressmedium
Prosopis pubescenceCrewbean mesquitemedium
Prunis ilicifolia subsp. lyonii Catalina cherrymedium
Pinus torreyanaTorrey pinelarge
Acer negundo or A. macrophyllaCalifornia box elder or big leaf maplelarge
Quercus agrifoliaCoast live oaklarge

Ornamental shade tree selection, examples of trees that will be available in retail nurseries in 2022-23.

Scientific NameCommon NameDrought Tolerance and Evergreen-DeciduousSize
Cercis canadensis ‘Forest Pansy’Eastern redbudgood, deciduoussmall
Cercis occidentalisWestern redbudgood, deciduoussmall
Eriobatrya deflexaBronze loquatmoderate, evergreensmall
Lagerstromia indicaCrape myrtlegood, deciduoussmall
Albizzia julibrissinMimosagood, evergreen (deciduous w/frost)medium
Arbutus x ‘Marina’Strawberry treegood, evergreenmedium
Olea europaea ‘Wilsonii’Fruitless olive treevery goodmedium
Lophostemon confertusBrisbane boxgood, evergreenlarge
Jacaranda mimosifoliaJacarandagood, semi-deciduouslarge
Magnolia grandifloraSouthern magnoliagood, evergreenlarge